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Contxto – As a global accelerator owned by Teléfonica, Wayra has been steadily investing in Latin American startups since 2011. With 60 percent of its portfolio coming from the region, it has certainly played a major role in the ecosystem.
Although companies like Synapbox and IMIX belong to its portfolio, the Madrid-based accelerator recently decided to reduce some regional operations. While previous reports claimed this development meant flat-out closures, it’s more of a strategic restructuring as Wayra evolves more into a VC fund for later-stage startups.
In other words, no longer does Wayra need as much physical space to host early-stage startups seeking acceleration. Rather, it intends to focus more on mature companies and will close four out of its seven centers to consolidate space.
Last week, Wayra announced that it will part ways with facilities in Chile, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. The goal is to reportedly concentrate programming elsewhere.
Moving forward, this involves consolidation in Colombia, Brazil, as well as Argentina. These adjustments come a year after the company announced a restructuration of its business model and objectives.
Following this announcement, Wayra will close down facilities in Chile and Peru to expand its presence in Argentina. All the while, the same will happen in Mexico and Venezuela to reinforce operations in Colombia.
Sadly, some people will be laid off, although reports say it won’t exceed a total of ten employees. Nevertheless, I contacted Wayra Peru to gather more information on the subject. “There’s no need to comment on anything since there’s nothing confirmed nor ruled-out,” according to the source.
Regardless of these changes, there’ll still be groups of three to six people responsible for scouting potential startups. Meaning, Wayra will still work as an accelerator to some capacity.
“Since physical spaces are less relevant for startups in a mature stage, it has been decided to close the physical spaces of Wayra and redirect efforts towards greater investment and scaling of startups,” communicated Wayra through a press release.
Sequentially, Wayra’s new plan is to concentrate on more mature companies. The accelerator now intends to invest up to EU$150,000 (about US$165,000), tripling the amount previously settled. Additionally, Wayra will collaborate with other funds and angel investors to increase funding opportunities.
“Our mission is to make the integration and sale of startup solutions represent an increasingly relevant business for the company,” shared Miguel Arias, the head of the Wayra’s entrepreneurship department.
Wayra will continue managing its Colombian, Argentine, and Brazilian hubs. Outside of Latin America, there will still be offices in London, Madrid, Barcelona, and Munich. All of them will continue following the same strategy proposed last year.
In the short-term, this means dispersing up to EU$5 million annually to startups. Over the past year and a half, 50 companies have reportedly received investments.
Back in Spain, though, the parent company Teléfonica reportedly saw EU$3.3 million worth of losses in 2018. Apparently, some structural adjustments were necessary.